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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015, Article ID 523250, 9 pages
Research Article

Effects of Exercise in Immersive Virtual Environments on Cortical Neural Oscillations and Mental State

1Institute of Movement and Neurosciences, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany
2Institute of Visual Computing and Department of Computer Science, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, Grantham-Allee 20, 53757 Sankt Augustin, Germany
3Department of Computer Science and Engineering, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3
4Faculty of Computer Science, University of New Brunswick, 550 Windsor Street, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5A3
5School of Health and Sport Sciences, Faculty for Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD 4558, Australia

Received 8 April 2015; Revised 3 August 2015; Accepted 3 August 2015

Academic Editor: James M. Wyss

Copyright © 2015 Tobias Vogt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Virtual reality environments are increasingly being used to encourage individuals to exercise more regularly, including as part of treatment those with mental health or neurological disorders. The success of virtual environments likely depends on whether a sense of presence can be established, where participants become fully immersed in the virtual environment. Exposure to virtual environments is associated with physiological responses, including cortical activation changes. Whether the addition of a real exercise within a virtual environment alters sense of presence perception, or the accompanying physiological changes, is not known. In a randomized and controlled study design, moderate-intensity Exercise (i.e., self-paced cycling) and No-Exercise (i.e., automatic propulsion) trials were performed within three levels of virtual environment exposure. Each trial was 5 minutes in duration and was followed by posttrial assessments of heart rate, perceived sense of presence, EEG, and mental state. Changes in psychological strain and physical state were generally mirrored by neural activation patterns. Furthermore, these changes indicated that exercise augments the demands of virtual environment exposures and this likely contributed to an enhanced sense of presence.